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Seizure alert dogs may assist in seizure reduction

30 October, 2002

Seizure Alert Dogs, dogs that are trained to recognise specific changes before a tonic-clonic seizure in humans, can also help reduce the frequency of seizures, according to a report in the journal Seizure.

Researchers, led by Val Strong from the UK charity Support Dogs, studied 10 people diagnosed with tonic-clonic seizures who had been assigned Seizure Alert Dogs. Before the 12 week training period that each person undertook with their dog and a trainer, the average number of seizures per person was 13.8 in a 4 week period. During the training period, average seizure frequency went down to 9.7 per 4 week period. After 24 weeks of being with the dog, frequency was further reduced to an average of 8.0 seizures per 4 week period.

Overall, there was a 43 per cent reduction in seizure frequency across all those being monitored. Nine out of the ten people in the study had at least a 34 per cent reduction in seizure frequency.

The authors wrote that some of the participants in the study said that the ability to predict seizures had allowed them to engage in more activities than before. The study concludes:

"Whether this increased self-confidence alone is sufficient to alter seizure frequency is not clear, but it is possible that increased levels of activity and engagement in tasks has an effect".